Book Reviews

Book Review : Starship Troopers

Starship TroopersStarship Troopers by Richard Heinlein is an outstanding book. Let me warn you that if you’re going into this book expecting something like the movie, you’re going to be a bit surprised and possibly a little disappointed. There certainly are quite a few parallels, but I feel like the differences were far more noticeable and significant. As a fan of the movie (I love campy scifi), I still think it was an excellent read. The book is filled with interesting philosophies and technologies. However, it can get a bit wordy and really drag at certain points, but overall I think this book is a great read for anyone who enjoys science fiction.

The Good:

1. The book is full of interesting ideas and philosophies. Society has become incredibly militant and has very low tolerance, but as a result crime has dropped incredibly and productivity has flown sky high. There was plenty of food for thought through the entire book.

2. Tons of interesting technology, especially considering the year the book was written (1959). There are powered mobile suits, orbital drops, infrared goggles, and a whole variety of other things. It’s very easy to see how this book acted as a sort of genesis point for the mech genre.

3. This book has served as the basis for so much modern day science fiction. Space Marines, Iron Man, and the entire mecha anime genre just to list a few. As a fan of all these things, it was really cool to see and read the material that inspired it all.

The Bad:

1. There are some sections that can be very heavy and wordy. These parts mostly deal with lectures on moral philosophy and army tactics. You can tell me that this certain situation gives you three PFCs to place on this grid, and two Sergeants to instruct that group, and four Mobile Engineers to do this work, but it really doesn’t do much the story other than bog it down and make it difficult to read.  

2. The book is a bit emotionally dry. While there were parts of Rico’s character I could relate to, over all I just didn’t pull for him because he felt kind of flat. I believe this is symptomatic of the fact that the book is heavily based upon the military, but I also think Heinlein spent too much time telling me how everything was, and not enough time showing and making me feel how it was. Therefore I just did not end up incredibly invested.

The Meh:

1. Some of the verbiage and terminology in the book is a bit dated. This isn’t really something that deserves a negative mark. It was just a bit jarring for me to read phrases like “Golly Mister!” (It is through no fault of the author or the book that language and commonly used phrases have changed.)

Synopsis:

Throughout the book we follow the military career of Juan (Johnnie) Rico. Shortly after graduating high school he makes a hasty decision and joins the military. Not exceptionally skilled in mathematics and with average abilities all around, Rico ends up in the mobile infantry. Despite the harsh training designed to weed out the weak, and knowing that he has a very comfortable future at home, Rico is determined to stick with his training. After much trial and tribulation he graduates and begins his life as a Mobile Infantrymen. Johnny eventually goes on to O.C.S., during this time we learn a great deal about the philosophy of his world and how he views being in the military. In the end Rico will need all of his knowledge and experience to triumph over the trials placed before him.

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